After Kacey Bellamy skated in the ballpark of her home-state nine for the first time in 2010, she helped the U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team win a silver medal at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
The Westfield, Mass. native and her Olympic-bound teammates again practiced at Fenway Park last week, on Jan. 13, and this time the experience was even a little more special. Last fall, the Boston Red Sox claimed the World Series title inside Fenway Park for the first time since 1918, when a young man named Babe Ruth was still plying his trade in Boston.
“It was amazing,” Bellamy said of the ballpark, which played host to a variety of hockey games in early January. “It was a warm day out; we got to take pictures in the Green Monster and the dugout. I think it was really exciting for the non-Massachusetts’ girls, too, because this year the Red Sox winning was such a big deal and maybe they didn’t understand how much a big deal it was for the Red Sox to win the World Series.
“I think being there, being around Fenway Park and seeing the tradition and history there; it was great for us to do that.”
The U.S. players, who have been training for the Winter Games in nearby Bedford, Mass., can only hope that the Red Sox’s magical season rubs off on them as they aim to dethrone three-time defending champions Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games next month in Sochi, Russia.
“Yeah that’s the plan,” Bellamy said. “We’ve been working really hard for the last five months. Obviously we’ve had our ups and downs, but I think we are peaking at the right time and doing everything we need to do so it’s great.”
The former University of New Hampshire defenseman has been one of the most vocal players on Team USA when it comes to the topic of using the loss to Canada in 2010 as motivation for this year’s Winter Games. But while that losing effort has been gnawing on her mind, Bellamy also said in the last four years she has improved her mental toughness and learned how to push mistakes on the ice out of her head.
“I think it’s definitely been a tough year mentally and physically, obviously it’s an Olympic year and you give everything,” she said. “I’m very competitive and hard on myself. But I think the coaches have done a good job taming that, so I’m not getting frustrated. Yeah, you are going to make mistakes, but if do it at 100 percent that’s okay, but if you do it at 90 percent there’s a problem.
“Throughout the year there have obviously been ups and downs, but of late I feel better about my play.”
Two things that Bellamy and her teammates already put behind them are the two fights they had with Canada during the pre-Olympic exhibition tour. Bellamy was involved in the second fight on Dec. 20, a 4-1 victory in Grand Forks, N.D., but she was not involved in the fight during a 3-2 loss in Burlington, Vt. on Oct. 12.
“It’s basically you do what you gotta’ do out there,” she said. “Obviously you stick up for teammates no matter what circumstance, that’s what we did: We went out to stick up for teammates. They did same thing. You never want anyone to get hurt, and in that circumstance nobody did, but you give whatever you can out there.”
Bellamy said that while the players will certainly face more questions about the fights once they get to Sochi, they hope the actual fighting is over.
“Obviously the media loves that type of stuff,” she said. “We know we play hard and there’s been battles against Canada, and now we’re playing in the Olympics and it’s going to be a totally different game, and we’re going to keep working hard and play our game.
“If the time comes and we need to stick up for teammate we will do it in a manner that’s not full out brawling. We’re going to be smart because you can’t do that in the Olympics.”
Team USA also had to show some restraint at its practice last week at Fenway Park, during which they were not allowed to go sledding on the 20-foot-high Monster Sled set up in the ballpark’s outfield.
“We weren’t allowed too, it’s against our contract,” Bellamy said. “We have to obviously be cautious and take care of our bodies and obviously USA Hockey tries to take the best care of us they can.
“We follow those guidelines.”
And while Bellamy tweeted on that day — “Snow tubing at Fenway who knew” — she wasn’t too bummed about not taking a ride herself.
“It was whatever,” she said. “We saw people go down. I think the best thing was to go on the ice. That was the best part, to take a picture as a team.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.